My excitement t getting my hands on a first few bottles of the new saca of the Solear en rama manzanilla was tempered by my guilty conscience at the big backlog of draft posts accumulating on the blog, of which this is one. I appreciate that this might be disconcerting, implying as it does that I actually take some time to write these posts (against all evidence to the contrary) but it is true. The silence in social media over the last few weeks was less an indication of monastic self denial and more an indictment of my lack of blogging discipline. In my defense, I would plead that many of the wines in the backlog were knocked back during pretty convivial lunches (many of them, like this one, at Territorio Era) that it would have been a shame to interrupt, however rapid a chap’s thumbs have become over the years.
But enough excuses, this wine deserves a write up, even if it isn’t the first, and even if I don’t have anything useful to add (but after all noone comes here for that). It is one of the most “biological” of the recent sacas – a real buzzy yeasty and salty pungency to the nose that goes beyond sea air and strays over onto rockpools and low tide, and then a very sharp, sizzling profile on the palate. It has that big, spicey and slightly bitter green leaf favor and then again a super fresh, saline finish.
An absolute belter. Bring on summer!
According to the back label, this has the “flavour of a sunset over the Doñana plain, on the banks of the Guadalquivir river.” If you haven’t been there you won’t appreciate quite what a big call that is – one of the finest sunsets I have seen.
And although this kind of wine lavel poetry normally leaves me inclined to resort to base prose on this occasion it can be justified (even if not forgiven) because this wine is cracking. The big brother of a manzanilla I tried for the first time recently this is a step up in salinity and intensity, with a deeper colour, more pronounced zingy salinity and flavours of slightly bitter burnt almonds and even a touch of liquorice root.
Absolutely cracking with some spicey patatas bravas at Territorio Era.
Another day, another vintage wine from el Marco. If only it were so. In fact the wines from el Marco that are differentiated by vintage tend to be the exception and this, in particular, is absolutely exceptional.
I have written about this project often – here is a bit of a compilation – and have been looking to this third bota keenly. The difference between botas one and two was marked – the additional year of flor turning a wine that was still fresh and fruity into something noticeably sharper – and while not as dramatic, the step up here is also noticeable.
Unless it is my imagination (or the light, or my eyes, or the warmup drinks) but the colour seems to have lost the touch of green that the first bota had and the gold has become just a touch older. Then on the nose it has definitely gained some sea air – a saltier presence there, which is backed up on the palate, where it has gained volume and backbone from the salinity.
Most importantly though it still has that lushness of fruit – has maybe retained a little bit of glycerol and the flavours are towards old golden delicious apples (the ones that have lost their green and turned yellow). The flavour has also gained something in intensity.
I appreciate that not many people get the chance to try this and it is a real pity – it is fascinating to see the difference that each year in bota makes (granted that the botas will evolve slightly differently). I only hope my notes give an idea of the process. In any event, three down now, only eight to go (to the vertical in 2025).
A spot of lunch in one of my happy places: the bar of the wonderful Taberna Verdejo. No sooner have I sat down than a glass of this heat killing manzanilla madura is produced (and it disappeared almost as quickly).
I am not sure if this is from Pago Callejuela or not, but if I had to guess I would say so – a river influence manzanilla that while not absolutely as vertical, fresh or direct as its atlantic cousins is still sharp enough and with a bit of body about it. It looks like serious, solid stuff – clear but not too much sparkle – and has a seaside and mature apple nose. On the palate a mildly zingy beginning, apple and herb flavours with a suggestion of oxidation and a fresh, fluid finish.
Hit the spot: a cracking way to start an excellent lunch.
Happy families because these two wines come from vaguely the same soleras – I say vaguely because while the La Guita en rama was apparently bottled from botas selected from the solera used to produce La Guita and has an average age of four and a half years, the Manzanilla Pasada, while sourced from the same bodega, is a selection from two very special botas in a very special room.
In any event, the family resemblance is very clear, and once again the comparison between the two is very revealing. As you can see the manzanilla pasada is only slightly darker in colour than the manzanilla, and on the nose I would say it is a little more muted, with less haybales. But whereas the manzanilla en rama comes across as jauntily characterful – a combination of citrus, chalky mineral and herbs – the manzanilla pasada seems to have the same elements but in a profile that is both more compact and richer, more harmonious, and with an added savoury, toasted flavour. Perhaps doesn’t have the sharp saline opening and finish of its younger sibling but it is beautifully elegant nonetheless.
Really top class wines the pair of them.
Have been meaning to have another crack at this since a memorable dinner with its maker, Eduardo Ojeda, a little while ago in Lavinia. Although I had really enjoyed it last January and again in March, for one reason or another I hadn’t come across it for ages until that dinner.
It is a wine with a lot of personality, no doubt. A rich brass colour and a very aromatic nose of citrus, minerals (rusty metal), nuts, chamomile and herbs, then again on the palate fresh, sweet seeming citrus to baked citrus, a zesty orange sponge kind of flavour, almonds to roast almonds, and sweet herbs, and the citrus lasts a long time giving a really pleasant, sweet feel to the finish.
An excellent wine. I can’t wait for this year’s saca.
The latest from this fantastic series (a release every season since 1999) comes with a black winged stilt (cigüeñuela común) on the label.
It is a beautiful dark gold colour with maybe just a hint of green, and has a very very pungent nose (almost swimming-pool like in intensity) of salty iodine and sea herbs, almost like seaweed. On the palate it is just an explosion of sapidity, full of life, with really zingy, saline heat and spicey, peppery salad flavours.
An absolute belter – love these little bottles and this one seems to have come with a bit of extra oomph.